A ranty, funny, dead-serious intersectional feminist blog.

Penny Arcade’s Gabe is Willfully Ignorant (Again)

Update 9/4/2013: And again.

Update 6/21/13: Gabe has issued an apology. See bottom of post.

I didn’t intend for this to be a post in and of itself, but trying to export from Storify to WP posted it, so here it is. (For additional context, read No Sacred Cows.)

Note: This post has been updated. Last update on 6/21.

It’s not his ignorance that drives me insane. It’s the way he clings to it as though to even consider learning something might cause his head to implode.

  1. “not all women have vaginas.” thanks Kotaku. You teach me so much. kotaku.com/a-game-that-wa…
  2. they wanted to make a game for people with vaginas. I bet they felt pretty safe saying it was for women. Poor bastards.
  3. @pikoeri that game was for vagina havers. I don’t think it is exclusionary or unreasonable to lable vagina havers as women.
  4. @q0rt I am happy to treat/refer to people however they like regardless of their genitals.
  5. @q0rt I don’t think it makes me a monster to think boys have a penis and girls have a vagina though. I guess I could be wrong. It happens.
  6. @q0rt I am not denying any ones existence. I totally get that there are transgendered people.
  7. @q0rt I think gender is the same as genitals. I don’t think it has anything to do with sexuality or what you think feel like.
  8. And this sums it up nicely:
  9. Luckily, having @cwgabriel believe you are a woman is also not a requirement of being a woman.

Screen shot 2013-06-13 at 4.19.51 PM

Screen shot 2013-06-20 at 12.46.03 PM

Screen shot 2013-06-20 at 1.01.20 PM

Seriously, it’s time to stop pretending he gives a shit.


Gabe gives a shit: Here’s what I think is a lot closer to a real apology for “being an asshole.” Your thoughts are welcome (but insults and telling me to shut up aren’t, so don’t bother).

Here’s a great article by Matt Baker that does an AMAZING job summing up what’s really wrong here.

Also, The Fullbright Company pulls out of PAX.

Related Articles:

Gabe: We Made a Mistake Removing Dickwolves Merch

No Sacred Cows

Respectful discussion is welcome and encouraged. When in doubt, see the Comment Policy.

63 responses

  1. Harry Stemple

    What is the problem here? If you have a vagina, I’m going to pretty safely assume that you are a woman, just like if all you knew about me was that I had a penis it would be a pretty safe assumption that I am a man.

    September 3, 2013 at 2:31 pm

  2. KT

    True or False: Women have vaginas. IT IS NOT FALSE! If you’re doing percents: (from what I can find on Google) 95% of women have vaginas. That’s still an “A” if this were a quiz. He didn’t say “All women”. He wasn’t talking to the world, he was responding to someone asking about a game about women’s vaginas.

    For me, the thing comes down to this: The only weight Gabe’s comments have is what you give it. Just like if ANYONE were to tell you ANYTHING you didn’t agree with. And anyone who regularly reads Gabe’s stuff knows he’s some white nerd weird juvenile oaf guy. Has he ever said anything that was elegant and PC? It’s like poking an animal and getting mad when it responds like an animal.

    June 25, 2013 at 11:14 am

    • Since he was responding to a game reviewer acknowledging that women with other kinds of anatomy exist, and that they would not find the game (which is an edutainment game about how to masturbate one’s vagina) very useful, his meaning was pretty clear, and dead wrong on any quiz that uses the same context: true or false, women without vaginas exist.

      June 26, 2013 at 1:10 pm

  3. Enliq

    I don’t get it, what’s the problem? You have a penis you are a man, you have a vagina you are a woman. I understand that a man may feel like a woman and vice-versa. I understand that there are transgender and transsexual people. There’s nothing wrong with that. But you cannot cheat nature. That guy from twitter is perfectly right. He’s not an asshole, he’s just stating the fact.

    June 25, 2013 at 10:44 am

  4. lavsprat

    I don’t wanna live in a world where people tell me that someone born with a vagina may be even considered male.

    Screw your political correctness. White is white and black is black. This is how nature works. If those stupid people get offended by Gabe’s views, then I’m offended by theirs.

    June 25, 2013 at 10:05 am

    • superfluousmusings

      You already do live in that world according to the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and every other reputable scientific organization.

      August 24, 2013 at 6:41 am

  5. DW

    Oh good lord, is this post serious or some kind of retarded april’s fool joke?

    June 25, 2013 at 9:35 am

    • Oh good lord, is this comment serious or just a waste of my time? I’m going with B. Thanks for playing.

      June 25, 2013 at 9:38 am

  6. Oh gods. You are sincerely that twisted with your beliefs, that you are not seeing the world around you properly. Someone should remove those “gender prisms” from your eyes so that you’d stop being suitable for basic reeducation. Woman has female reproductive organs. Man has male reproductive organs. Noone says it’s only that or that this is the only factor, but these are facts. If you believe otherwise, you are not leaping over the level of inteligence, that make you a inteligent human, which makes this post irrelevant as you will react emotionally not logicaly and won’t understand anything except “thas is a atack on me, quick minions, he is undermining our way of thinking, attack him nao!”. Stop being idiots, please.

    June 25, 2013 at 9:25 am

    • Yes, my opinions are moot because you disagree. Was this meant to contribue something besides, “You’re stupid, shut up!” ?

      June 25, 2013 at 9:27 am

      • The author of those post did not say that female’s main “thing” are reproductive organs, however you assume that just because it suits your way of thinking. And for eg. in the end accusing the author of being just a cartoon is completely irrational as there is a living person behind that keyboard. “Subject verb object”‘s point is plainly dumb as not the person decides what is called a woman/man basing on their feelings but facts and biology.
        And your opinions moot not because they are not of mine, but cause they just are wrong. What you think you are does not change the fact what you really are. If I say I feel like a blonde – it does not make me any less brown-haired. Discussing topics like this is just a proof of boredom and/or trying to change word’s meaning.

        June 25, 2013 at 9:59 am

        • You misunderstand how gender identity works, and frankly, it’s not my job to educate you. I honestly don’t care whether you think I’m wrong or stupid or whatever, just please don’t waste any more of my time unless you want to actually try to understand the issue.

          June 25, 2013 at 10:01 am

          • Nope, I don’t really care how your ideas of humanity works. Reproductive organs define what is (fe)male and what is not. Am I wasting so much of your time that you need to respond? Hypocrisy.

            June 25, 2013 at 2:25 pm

            • superfluousmusings

              The problem is that you ‘give a shit’ enough to badger the author about how ridiculous her opinion is based on your own intuitive understanding but you can’t be bothered to do even a fucking google search to figure out that her opinion has some basis in a reality outside of her ‘idea of how humanity works’. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_identity

              Real people experience real pain because of people like you denying their experiences. Do you enjoy that? Do you enjoy that transgendered people commit suicide and are murdered at a rate much higher than the general population because of an evironment you help create with your ignorance?

              If someone says something about transgender issues, maybe it’s time to think about how much you know about the topic? Then you can decide whether it’s more appropriate to type something into google versus making an ass of yourself on a public forum. And if you don’t give a fuck enough about the topic enough to learn something, it’s probably a good idea to take Gabe’s advice and just shut up about it.

              August 24, 2013 at 6:37 am

  7. g2-6375e559b9d1299dc8104f9f1d72e21c

    All of this ignores the fact that most of these posts were in response to personal attacks, death threats, and threats toward his loved ones. Shall we mention that this started because someone threatened him because of a panel discussing the social justice movement? That the “cis” comment was in response to someone telling him that, because he offered to give them their own panel to counter the viewpoint, he was “cis male garbage?” Of course not; he is a heterosexual white male, and as such, deserves any and all abuse anyone else chooses to heap on him.

    Seriously, people, the pro-trans community was not a shining beacon of reason and decency in all of this, so stop demonizing Mike and start understanding that he reacted to terroristic threats and demands, and not a calm and reasoned explanation of why someone was hurt by his words. As soon as that calm and reasoned appeal was made, he started to come around.

    June 25, 2013 at 9:25 am

  8. All of this ignores the fact that most of these posts were in response to personal attacks, death threats, and threats toward his loved ones. Shall we mention that this started because someone threatened him because of a panel discussing the social justice movement? That the “cis” comment was in response to someone telling him that, because he offered to give them their own panel to counter the viewpoint, he was “cis male garbage?” Of course not; he is a heterosexual white male, and as such, deserves any and all abuse anyone else chooses to heap on him.

    Seriously, people, the pro-trans community was not a shining beacon of reason and decency in all of this, so stop demonizing Mike and start understanding that he reacted to terroristic threats and demands, and not a calm and reasoned explanation of why someone was hurt by his words.

    June 25, 2013 at 9:24 am

    • “All of this ignores the fact that most of these posts were in response to personal attacks, ”

      I’m sorry, but this is inaccurate. If you follow the tweets above, you’ll see the other side of the conversation. This was in response to someone trying to politely point out how what he was saying was problematic for them.

      I know some people lashed out in response to this. But they are not in the majority. Many, many, many people have tried to reason with Mike over this and Tentacle Bento and Dickwolves and his response has always been to dismiss and ridicule his critics. I hope he’s finally growing up.

      June 25, 2013 at 9:29 am

      • g2-6375e559b9d1299dc8104f9f1d72e21c

        Dickwolves… originally a joke about how MMO PCs are insensitive to anyone that isn’t directly relevant to a quest. The authors criticized for applauding rape when they used it because it was the most horrible thing to ignore. As a male rape survivor, I did not have a problem with this- I rather like seeing it pointed out that rape is not something you should just stand by and ignore. I can see how others might not want to see it, how it might be triggering, but I cannot see how the comic in question is supposed to have been doing anything other than saying “rape is very very bad, and this adventurer is a bad person for not caring.”

        So again, the creators do not always have the best responses to people lashing out emotionally at them. The community doesn’t either. You say it’s a minority? I ask you: how many people need to threaten your family’s safety before you react?

        June 25, 2013 at 9:46 am

        • Again, the problem wasn’t as much with the original misstep as with their response to criticism. They dismissed and ridiculed critics, pushing the whole thing to the point of making a t-shirt to celebrate the whole thing.

          You said Mike’s tweets were in response to threats. I pointed out that they weren’t. I understand that part of his emotional reaction to the whole thing was in response to shitty tweets he got. But as you can see, most of what happened here was just him stubbornly refusing to listen to someone whose experience is different from his.

          I totally agree that some people were assholes to him, and I don’t condone that at all. It’s not my way, and I don’t think it ever contributes anything to the conversation.

          June 25, 2013 at 9:56 am

          • g2-6375e559b9d1299dc8104f9f1d72e21c

            People did actually threaten him. People threaten him (and, really, just about every public figure) over everything that happens. I’ve been following PA scandals since Dickwolves, and I actually research more than just what’s on their site. If you’re going to stand on your soap box insisting things without actually doing the research to inform your opinion, I am done here. I shouldn’t have to argue with someone who wants their opinion broadcast but refuses to inform said opinion.

            June 25, 2013 at 10:10 am

            • I don’t remember claiming no one threatened him, but I’m on the road so I’ll have to check back later to clarify if needed. I have also been following this stuff, and I’m not sure why you think I haven’t, but I’m not losing any sleep over it. I’ve been in this industry 25 years and I think industry influencers can do better.

              June 25, 2013 at 12:43 pm

            • Ok, I see where the misunderstanding happened. You said these tweets were in response to threats. I pointed out that most of them are in direct response to someone attempting to politely discuss the issue with him. I did not intend to claim that he did not receive threats, as I know that he did. I also receive threats just for putting my opinion out there–I’m not a stranger to the concept. I too have followed this controversy since Dickwolves, 90% of the information I have read about it has been on sites other than PA, and I feel pretty informed about it, thanks.

              June 25, 2013 at 8:48 pm

            • I have also provided context for this post, which most people seem to have missed (speaking of informing opinions).

              Anyway, this *is* my soapbox, and you can feel free to argue or debate or not–whatever makes you happy. Chances are I’ll still be here talking about what I think is important whether you show up or not, but if you do come back, I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t assume I’m talking out my ass–it’s just rude. I respond better to clarifying questions than accusations based on assumptions. I’ve taken the time to respond thoughtfully to your comments, and I’d appreciate the same consideration.

              June 25, 2013 at 8:52 pm

          • insane00

            Perhaps it is best to clarify the situation as it has been publicly relayed. Mike’s initial comments about women being “vagina haver’s” were in response to the Kotaku article. He argued his belief, and at one point was called a monster (a pretty personal attack, tweet 5 in the above blog post is his response to this). His point may be considered inaccurate or ignorant, but I see very little belligerence, rudeness, or bigotry in his initial comments. I admit I may have missed the nasty ones, but those I have seen were not inherently rude.

            Then, as he tells it, he was attacked for a certain panel approved for PAX Australia. He tried to respond reasonably. He says:

            “It’s important to know that all panels are submitted by the community and we try and give anyone who wants a place to speak the space to do it. I responded that you don’t have to go to any panels you don’t like or alternatively you could go and tell them what you think.”

            Then this happened:

            “I was called a bigot and told that I was giving a stage to bigots. I had not even had breakfast yet. I said again that if they have a different opinion they are welcome to submit their own panel. I was then called “cis male garbage”. Someone then tweeted at me that I should die.”

            Thus the comments about personal attacks and the death threat.

            At this point he did become belligerent and say some nasty things including the comments above about using the word “cis.” Again, this does not excuse Mike’s behavior, but it is important to clarify such details so both sides can improve their communication and avoid the taste of feet as we go forward.

            (Quotes above can be found here: http://www.penny-arcade.com/2013/06/21/well-that-escalated-quickly)

            June 25, 2013 at 11:55 am

  9. Anon

    You know what? I would completely tolerate the existence of transgenders if you didn’t stop other people from being ignorant and forcing them to think your way.

    But you force them to acknowledge your existence and treat you as normal, which, even though if you think it is the correct way, not everyone wants and will believe. Stop forcing people, it will only make you look better… unless forcing people to is the only way in which you can tell them you’re normal, in which case it’s you that might have a problem and not them.

    June 25, 2013 at 8:50 am

    • Translation: I’m happy to “tolerate” you as long as you don’t try to assert any right to being treated like a regular human.

      You know what? No one’s “forcing” anyone to do anything, but yeah, some of us like to call out ignorance. It’s how people learn *not* to be ignorant, which is how we learn to treat one another with dignity.

      There are consequences to speech, and discussions like this are how people learn to be tolerant of people who are not like them. There was a time when many white people didn’t want to be “forced” think that blacks were human (in fact, those people still exist). No one forced them, but human rights moved forward as it usually does when people care enough to discuss the issues and learn.

      June 25, 2013 at 9:23 am

      • Anon

        I am tolerant of transgender people, but I still say women have vaginas. Not disrespectful of you, just respectful of biology. Besides, I haven’t met anyone who treats transgenders like a disgrace to society and I met many people who dislike transgenders. i mean, I know a few transgendered people myself, and despite them knowing that I am more conservative than they’d prefer, they do not see my worldview as being disrespectful of them.

        June 25, 2013 at 11:24 pm

  10. Reblogged this on Activism and Agitation.

    June 25, 2013 at 7:23 am

  11. SadMan

    political correctness …. where our civilization is heading to? Idiocracy.

    June 25, 2013 at 5:50 am

  12. Katy

    I really dislike most of the things that come out of Gabe’s mouth regarding his personal opinions. However, I’m now of the mind that he might actually have a serious mental problem. He gets far to upset about people on “teh interwebs” and feels completely justified in lashing out in the most offensive way possible for any perceived wrong. He seems some what schizotypal or histrionic and even makes jokes about forgetting his meds on his ranty days. I suspect this guy has serious issues, and as disgusting as the comments he makes is, I think he should really just be viewed with pity.

    It’s a shame his crap has to tarnish some of the good things PA does, like Child’s Play and other great outreach programs. They really should get rid of him, for the good of the mission.

    June 25, 2013 at 5:46 am

    • insane00

      Two things…

      First, Gabe does indeed have some mental issues. He has severe anxiety and is on medication for this. I would bet that this makes him a little more sensitive to personal attacks on the interwebs. So while you are correct, this is a rather insensitive comment to make at someone that constantly has to manage these medical problems.

      Second, Penny Arcade was founded by Gabe and Tycho, and nearly everything they do that is “good” is as much the product of Mike as it is of Jerry. So to be rid of Mike is to be rid of 1/2 of the team doing much for children and the gaming community as a whole. While I do not argue that this justifies his comments, I think it is unrealistic to argue that the good done by the organization is any less good because Mike is a part of it or because he is imperfect.

      We all have our issues, but Mike and Jerry have done a lot more public good despite their imperfections than most others.

      June 25, 2013 at 8:22 am

  13. Wow, you guys are special and filled with so hate, I weep for you.

    June 23, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    • Hey there, rainy face: don’t you fret. No hate here. But I do call it like I see it here on…wait, let me double check…yep, my blog.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:45 am

  14. insane00

    So this seems to be a place for intelligent discussion, so I feel like it is ideal for expressing my thoughts about this series of events and how it resulted in my ideas changing and growing. The discussion is pretty long, so be warned. If you bear with me, it may be enlightening, or at least may give some troll fodder.

    First, I think this whole debacle is very valuable both in terms of raising awareness and everyone getting an opportunity to take a look at themselves. My first reaction to the controversy was anger and frustration, not at Gabe, but at the community of individuals that attacked him. I understand Gabe’s frustration and had just had a similar conversation with some friends. For full disclosure, I am cis male and I was talking with generally cis friends (physically speaking, none of us have been genetically tested). Further, I have been trained as a scientist, so to me precision in language is vital (even if I often screw it up). So while I recognize that “woman” and “man” are linguistic constructs developed by our culture and linguistic history, they still have meaning. Words are intended to convey information, and the information conveyed by the word “woman” is not generally considered to be “any individual, regardless of physical genitalia, that self identifies and portrays the outward appearance of the cultural standards set for individuals with psychological, cultural, genetic, and physically female characteristics.” Rather, in a very real sense, the commonly accepted meaning of “woman” includes an identification of physical characteristics, including genitalia. In that sense, when I identify a person as a “woman” in conversation, I intend, and society agrees, that I am saying something about that persons hidden physical characteristics. For the vast majority of people that speak English, if I called someone a woman and they discovered that person had a penis, this would not compute, and I would be considered a liar. Thus, I feel it was completely unfair for Gabe to be accosted for his comments. He was not being “ignorant” as so many have accused, but rather expressing the acknowledged norms of the English language and its usage within American culture. Merely being unaware that a small subset of intellectuals and the LGBT community have altered the meaning of ”woman” does make him ignorant of their changes, it does not make him inherently ignorant or a bigot. Again, it reflects the fact that he was using the historic and continued cultural standard of the word’s meaning.

    This thought led me to my second major issue. What right does any group with an agenda have to hijack (forgive the negative connotation and bear with me, I am going somewhere with this) the English language? Suddenly the norms of the English language, everything that most people grow up with concerning meaning, becomes wrong because there is a vocal minority saying that “woman” now includes people with penises? Now I have to add the prefix “cis” to any gender valued word to specify that a person is not part of this minority? “Woman” and “man” now mean only the clothes a person wears and what they “self-identify” as? My gut instinct is to shout down these post-modern “everything is right” cries and to ignore these changes demanded on our cultural and linguistic norms. I wanted to say, “sorry, woman does not include you even if you do think you are one.” My scientific demand for precision cries out that words have established meaning that no minority has a right to change on a whim. Language is a communal activity, culturally established, and it is only culture as a whole that can make these changes. No minority annoyed with a word’s centuries of use give them the right to suddenly change it when they are given a voice. If any group wants to be acknowledged, then we can expand the language to include them rather than force a mass alteration of established usage and meaning.

    So yea, this was my thought process. Let me be clear. I am completely sympathetic to the LGBT community. I feel they deserve the same rights as everyone, complete equality. I further see that it is none of my, or anyone else’s, business to dictate who or what a person should be either with respect to gender or sex. I just did not feel that anyone has the right to hijack language. Let me use an example to illustrate my arguement. Take the n-word. It has a negative connotation, and that is why we do not use it. True, a community of African Americans have culturally adopted and altered its meaning for their use, but that does not change what it means if I, a white male, uses it. The word continues to be negative. Thus, we use different language to avoid the negativity when identifying a person’s skin color. But that isn’t all. As our society attempted to remove the negative connotation associated with skin color identification, we further adapted our language. We moved from negro, to colored, then to black, and now African American. This movement has not altered the negativity of past language. For me to refer to an African American as a negro is as racist today as it was 150 years ago. Thus, I foresaw a similar need for language modification when referring to individuals that are not cis male or cis female. We should find new word and expand the language, not alter well established cultural standards of meaning.

    This is where I was at yesterday and, tied to my annoyance about Gabe’s treatment on twitter, resulted I had a rather vocal discussion with a friend. During our talk he pointed out the abuse that transgender people receive, their status as second class citizens economically, and their victimhood by our society. I was appalled by the statistics that suggest that transgendered people are inordinately the victims of sociopaths. The stats suggest that our society, in general, views these individuals as non-people (http://www.thetaskforce.org/reports_and_research/ntds). It was at this point that the arguments above came crashing down. I can demand precision in language all I want, but establishing new language for individuals that are not cisgendered (is that the right term?) continues to identify them as second-class. It is no different from allowing heterosexual couples to engage in a contract with the government called “marriage” while limiting homosexual couples to “civil unions” or “domestic partnerships.” It falls under the “separate but equal” fallacy. By being separate they are inherently unequal. If we as a society limit the usage of traditional gendered terms to “normal” cis individuals then whatever language we use to identify non-cis gendered people inherently labels them as “abnormal.” This is wrong.

    So I ended the day with a different mindset. No one is “hijacking” the English language. And, the meaning of terms such as “woman” must adapt. If they do not, we will continue to unfairly separate a minority of our society and refuse them the equality that everyone deserves. Because our society is so antagonistic towards individuals within the LGBT community, anything short of adapting terms with cultural and linguistic constructs such as “woman” to include these individuals is unjust. More importantly, it will continue to promote inequality. As this whole event points out, to adapt the meaning of these terms will be a long, arduous, process, but eventual success will be worth the effort.

    So, readers may wonder, why the diatribe? Why the wall of text? I wrote this to help show that many individuals that completely support the LGBT community are still evolving. I also wrote it to clarify what was so unfair about Gabe’s treatment. He is known for wearing his opinions on his sleeve, and with respect to this controversy, his opinions merely reflected societal standards. For him to be attacked at the level of being called a monster and receiving calls for his death was both uncalled for and wrong. I understand both his opinions as well as why and how he reacted the way he did. It is very difficult to completely adjust the meaning of basic ideological standards such as “woman,” and nearly all humans are extremely defensive about their basic beliefs and ideas. And let’s face it, for most people the idea that “a boy has a penis, and a girl has a vagina” is about as standard and basic a belief as it gets. Hell, I am an anthropologist and it took some serious logical analysis for me to alter my perceptions about what these terms should mean going forward. I think it would be best if all those involved cut the cis community some slack as they develop their ideas. Using “transphobic” at the drop of a hat is not fair. Many will consider my views going into this discussion transphobic and may still consider me that way. But the reality is that many of those that support universal equality still have trouble completely altering their world view. To call an individual “transphobic” for not being able to instantly accept a new definition of common language is insulting, it puts people on the defensive, and as I see it, is not true. Everyone should be allowed to question ideas that seriously challenge their perception of reality. To insult them for expressing this basic human right is wrong. Further everyone should do their best to avoid serious insults and call for other peoples’ deaths. For these reasons, a few people seriously owe Gabe an apology as much as he owed one to those he hurt. I know at least one person has stepped up and done that (http://planetransgender.blogspot.com/2013/06/penny-arcade-creator-truly-sorry-for.html).

    To anyone that read this far, thank you for hearing me out. It was long and perhaps not as enlightening as I hope. But maybe it will clarify some of the challenges that this event and the issue of altering standardized meanings raise. These challenges are not only societal, but more importantly personal. Moving equality forward will require everyone to recognize this.

    June 23, 2013 at 10:04 am

  15. David

    You shouldn’t expect people to pretend they don’t know scientific facts for the sake of satisfying some need for political correctness. Male humans have a penis, female humans have a vagina. This is indisputable!

    June 22, 2013 at 8:16 am

    • You can go through life like a bull in a China shop if you like, but even Gabe eventually saw how destructive his behavior and attitudes have been to causes he holds dear.

      June 22, 2013 at 8:24 am

      • thoera

        If truth is destructive, let us destroy.

        June 23, 2013 at 7:14 pm

  16. Anonymous Game Developer

    As a slight, further followup:


    June 21, 2013 at 11:19 am

    • I’m at a conference, so I can’t give your earlier comment the attention it deserves right now, but I do want to acknowledge this: It’s a way better apology and I truly hope he has learned something. Thanks.

      June 21, 2013 at 11:24 am

  17. Anonymous Game Developer

    I’m not sure that me posting this is a good idea, or even worth including in the discussion.

    To answer an above question that’s been asked a few times: speaking as a game developer, the reason things like PAX and Penny-Arcade get a lot of credence is because their primary focus is on video games and they have a massive following. I don’t pretend to agree with everything said by members of Penny-Arcade– particularly in cases like the above it’s appalling and indefensible. On the other hand, they have done a large amount of great work for the video gaming community as a whole, bridging the gap when the hobby was a social stigma to the present, where nearly everyone plays games. It’s also worth noting that Gabe isn’t speaking for “Penny Arcade” as a whole, although thanks to the Internet that distinction no longer matters. Speaking as someone who spent a decade lying about his hobbies so that he could have friends, Penny-Arcade represents something that is, for me, an inclusive environment (although I recognize that that sense of inclusion isn’t global at all).

    I’m curious, though, how does this part of the dialogue factor into the discussion?


    For my part, I make an effort to be as inclusive as I possibly can be while designing. I am, like many of the people I work with, operating from a position of ignorance. It often feels like it’s less dangerous for me to only ‘write what I know’ rather than trying to use my position to represent people who aren’t able to represent themselves in the medium, but I don’t honestly know if that’s the right solution. My experience thus far is that I’m equally likely to be vilified for doing either. Is there a right answer?

    June 21, 2013 at 11:03 am

  18. No, but a person’s *sex* does. What Gabe’s said was correct from a physical sex standpoint but not from a gender standpoint. Of course “woman” is a term generally relating to gender rather than sex, but his mistake here is in not getting the difference between sex and gender.

    June 21, 2013 at 1:14 am

  19. Noah

    This sounds exactly like an argument I just had with about 7 semi-anonymous people on the internet, who attacked my comment with ignorant and transphobic remarks. My original comment was just a request that the creator of a youtube video consider that not only women get pregnant– note that this creator has been publicly supportive of GSM rights and would probably actually want to hear that comment. Anyway, good to know it’s not just me (that’s a complete lie, I WISH it was just me, then less people would have to deal with this bullshit).

    June 20, 2013 at 8:11 pm

  20. zip@zip.zip

    What’s the job market like for people who sit online getting worked up over their sexuality all day?

    June 20, 2013 at 6:43 pm

  21. levelmindedcitizen

    Christ. This is what’s wrong with america: everyone getting their panties in a twist because “hurrmughurr he is using a gender label! He must be a big got contributing to our mysogynist rape culture!!” Get fucked and for the love of go…. the deity of your choosing if you do choose to believe in one and if not that’s cool too…. take the stick out of your ass … or oriface of your choosing or leave it there…. and live a little.

    June 20, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    • Right, because everyone knows that all an angry feminist needs is a good fucking. Thanks for this “contribution” to the conversation. If you decide to come back, maybe don’t be a dick. Just a thought.

      June 22, 2013 at 8:18 am

  22. Randy M.

    Ya’ll ever stop to think maybe you’re being to over-reactive on something? The notion that females of the species have vaginas and males of the species have penises is quite common throughout the entire animal kingdom. It’s taught in schools. It’s scientific fact. There are a number of exceptions, as with any rule, but biologically speaking, he is correct. Regardless of how one wishes to identify themselves (Male, female, otherkin, sexual beam of energy roaming this planet), it does not change their biology and physical composition. And if they’ve undergone physical alterations to line up with the proper terminology, than great, they’ve crossed the barrier of the sexes. It’s a simple ven diagram. All women have vaginas, all men have dicks, and some people lie in the middle.

    June 20, 2013 at 11:10 am

    • It’s not that simple. If you truly want to understand, there is a lot of material out there that will help you do just that. To put it simply, a person’s gender identity has nothing to do with genitals.

      June 20, 2013 at 11:17 am

      • thoera

        You’re a fucking idiot.

        I don’t believe there are people who believe this bullshit in 2013.

        June 23, 2013 at 7:07 pm

        • Well, you’re apparently a fucking asshole. Isn’t it neat how we can have opinions? But this is my blog, so if you have nothing to add, kindly take your dump somewhere else in the future.

          June 24, 2013 at 9:48 am

  23. Mackenzie

    That fauxpology isn’t the end of it. https://twitter.com/cwgabriel/status/347751726738202624

    June 20, 2013 at 10:49 am

    • Oh, good heavens. I’ll update. Thank you!

      June 20, 2013 at 10:50 am

  24. I just want to clarify two things about this post:

    1. This is intended as part of a larger discussion about “sacred cows.” I don’t believe context is needed to see that Gabe’s response to criticism is (as always) to dismiss his critics, but I’m glad he did feel the need to apologize even if I’m not sure he really understands what he did wrong (and that’s one real issue with his apology–not that I feel it was insincere, but that this type of apology often indicates a lack of understanding of what all the fuss was about).

    Read “No Sacred Cows” for more on how Penny Arcade and others get off the hook for bad behavior: https://makemeasammich.org/2013/06/07/penny-arcades-gabe-is-willfully-ignorant-again/

    2. This is not an isolated incident, but a pattern of behavior ranging from questionable to downright poor and of responding to criticism of said behavior by dismissing, making light of, or even ridiculing critics and their critcisms. This is another reason I find his apology a little empty. As industry influencers, I’d like to see Gabe and Penny Arcade take some responsibility for the kind of influence their words have. Google “Dickwolves Debacle” for some history.

    June 17, 2013 at 3:56 pm

  25. This is not about ignorance, it is about privilege. Gabe is protected by being Male, white and likely middle to upper middle class in America. He probably has grown up with a certain amount of protection and comfort. I am sure he has had challenges and difficulties in his life, but I am also sure he has never truly experienced being invisible.

    So he feels totally comfortable in reducing women not just down to a body part, but a sexual organ. He did not refer to any other biological marker that generally separates one physical gender from another he fell back upon on that is automatically associated with sex. Again, this is not ignorance it’s privilege.

    His position in life currently allows him to say controversial things and it garners a lot of attention. He makes a comment that is designed to offend and draw attention, he then reacts as though he is hurt or offended when people take the time to correct him. By hiding behind “ignorance” he can become outraged when he is attacked and he can draw more attention with his resulting commentary.

    I am all for educating. The correct terms for gender identity and assignment have changed with time, and I currently do not have any Trans* people in my circle of friends. Not because I don’t want to, rather because until recently I was not in an area where it was safe to be openly Trans*. I still work to learn the correct terms, when corrected on a term I do use I thank the person for the correction and incorporate that into my language. I celebrate Trans* wins and shake my fist in anger at setbacks, and I educate other people who do not use the correct terms. I don’t do this for anyone currently in my life, I do this because it’s just the right thing to do.

    In many ways, regarding Trans* people I am ignorant. I can only imagine what it is like, I can only guess what they go through. I have made social and verbal blunders in the past, and I will likely do so again in the future. And I seek out education to eliminate this ignorance. I have gender privilege. I don’t know what it is like to be born into the wrong body, There are entire clothing lines and stores designed for me, advertising is aimed at me. My mode of dress falls along gender norms and raises little notice or comment. Bathrooms are only a nightmare for me when there are long lines or a mess. And I appreciate my privilege the more because of the privileges I don’t have.

    I don’t have male privilege, I don’t have straight privilege, I don’t have skinny privilege.

    My point is that arguing with Gabe is largely fruitless, if your goal is to change his mind or educate him. You are giving him the attention he wants and since you are dealing with privilege not ignorance education will fail. BUT, the argument and debate is still valid because there are people following the debate who are ignorant and will benefit from being educated.

    June 10, 2013 at 6:43 am

    • You’ve made some great points here. Ignorance is not the problem–lots of people are ignorant about lots of things and that doesn’t make them wrong. Willful ignorance on the other hand–or as you describe it, making stupid comments to get attention and then being outraged when people point out your ignorance and refusing to learn from it (exercising the privilege you point out to go through life as, among other things, an asshole who gets rewarded for being an asshole)–is a choice.

      I never argue with Gabe or Tycho or Penny Arcade. But I do point out their continued bad behavior (including Gabe’s penchant for actually doing public battle with people who attempt to educate him) because after 25 years in the games industry, it pains me to see people pretend this shit either didn’t happen or doesn’t matter so they can go to PAX with some semblance of a clear conscience (I assume). I still encounter people who aren’t even aware any of this happened, and they’re appalled to learn about it, and choose not to go to PAX once they know about it. But many of us are well aware and choose to support PA and PAX anyway, and that’s what I want to talk about. Why do we not demand better from industry influencers? I think we have to.

      I have an article going up today that talks more about the reason I posted this. Stay tuned. And thanks for reading and commenting!

      June 10, 2013 at 7:32 am

      • I got tuned into your Blog because of Le Clown (Clown on Fire) and I really like it.

        What I really liked about your post was that you simply put up the tweets and let them speak for themselves. I thought that was very well done. A good portion of my commentary was partially in response to the comments on your blog.

        I could tell by your blog that you understand what is going on. And I do agree that the “willful ignorance” or “Privilege” needs to be pointed out. Because silence is assent.

        I look forward to your next post.

        June 10, 2013 at 7:38 am

  26. This guy sounds like a 12 year old boy with bigoted parents attempting to repeat what he is overhearing in the most idiotic way possible. Is he an adult? He certainly doesn’t sound like one.

    June 8, 2013 at 6:10 am

    • Yeah, he’s possibly as old as thirty by now. And apparently as obtuse as they come. But maybe he’s a late bloomer. ;)

      June 8, 2013 at 11:36 am

  27. druidwinter

    They don’t see how offencive that is?

    June 7, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    • No. He never does. To my knowledge, he has never once learned from his mistakes. And yet people in the industry line up to praise these guys for their comic and attend their yearly expo. I just don’t get it.

      June 8, 2013 at 11:35 am

  28. craftspagan

    A classic case of having only two brain cells that only occasionally bounce into each other. All my sympathy for those poor lonely brain cells.

    June 7, 2013 at 9:12 pm

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